May 212015 10 Responses

Don’t Be a Facebook Piranha

River Monsters is not my idea of a good bedtime show, but for the past few weeks it has been the show of choice by my 7-year-old. Every night before bed, I allow Silas to pick a You Tube video which we watch for less than 10 minutes. While I have a say, I generally try to agree with his choice.

The video is almost always in the genre of science and nature. We’ve learned about penguins, snakes, sharks, lions, spiders, and a variety of other animals. Currently he likes fish, and in particular, piranhas.

Amazingly, Silas can drift off to sleep even after watching a video describing piranhas stripping humans of every piece of flesh on their bones. Hours later at my bedtime, I struggle to get the image out of my head.

Piranhas are fascinating creatures. While a small fish, they possess a mouth full of teeth and because they feed in a frenzy, they can strip a struggling animal of its life and its protein in seconds.

On the latest episode of River Monsters, Jeremy Wade researched what causes a piranha to attack. He swam in a swimming pool of piranha without even a sniff from a fish. But on other occasions, the feeding frenzy explodes leaving the victim with no chance of survival.


Wade learned the conditions which cause piranhas to attack:

  • distress in a potential victim
  • splashing or struggling in the water
  • the smell of blood

Those conditions will lure one piranha to the victim and with one bite, all the other fish attack as well.

While watching last night’s episode, Silas was amazed at the fish. I was fascinated by Facebook.

Do you notice the similarities between piranhas and many people on Facebook? (See: Stop Breaking the Ninth Commandment on Facebook)

How many people troll social media waiting to smell blood in the water. Any sense of weakness, any struggle, any mistake and they all swarm. Without asking questions, giving the benefit of the doubt, or extending grace, the haters begin to rip at the issue at hand, attempting to strip the person of all dignity.

This behavior has given rise to a variety of click-bait websites who twist facts (or all-out lie) just in hopes of causing a stir. They basically splash the water and pour in a little blood to make us think something serious is happening.

Consider the headlines:

“(Fill in your political opponent) seeks to destroy freedom”

“You won’t believe what (Fill in your most hated Hollywood celebrity) does now”

“We must take back (fill in your country, state, or city) before they destroy it”

Millions of dollars are made off of our piranha-like tendency of only reacting when there is blood in the water.

But I wonder: is our attack mentality not a sign of our weakness? (See: A Sign of Doubt–Why Your Co-Worker Screams His Beliefs)

If we are quick to attack others when they are in a weakened state, doesn’t that show a weakness in our ideas, beliefs, and understanding of how the world should operate?

If I’m right, I shouldn’t be intimidated by the belief system of another. I shouldn’t hate someone just because they disagree with me. I shouldn’t be frustrated by their wrongness. If I’m right and I’m confident about it, the belief of another isn’t going to have a deep impact on me. I might wish they knew better. I will likely try to help them. But if they choose a different path, that is their business, not mine.

In this format, I only want to interact with someone when they are at their best. Because I’m confident of my belief, I have no need to attack when my opponent is weakened. I can wait for a fair match which will highlight the difference in ideas rather than possibly exploit some other condition.

Whenever my favorite sports team is at its best, I don’t like it if our opponent’s best player is injured. To me it provides an excuse for the other team. I would rather beat them at their best, not in some weakened state. It’s only when I doubt my team’s ability that I get excited when an opponent has an injury.

Attacking when there is blood in the water proves I’m a scavenger not a predator. It’s true in nature and on social media. Scavengers only survive off the suffering of others. Predators survive because of their superior strength.

Don’t be a Facebook scavenger—only feeling strong because you attack others in their weakest moments.

Instead, test your ideas against the best opponents in their strongest moments. If your ideas can stand the test, then they are worth staking your life to. If they can’t, then they can probably be sacrificed. (See: Debate the Best)

Piranhas are interesting animals, but there is a major problem being around piranhas—the moment they sense a weakness in you, instead of being their dinner companion, you become the main course.

I want ideas which are strong enough to stand the toughest of tests.

And I want friends who are compassionate enough not to attack me at my weakest moments.

Don’t be a Facebook piranha.

10 Responses to Don’t Be a Facebook Piranha
  1. […] There is a danger of being quiet in times of controversy. I would never encourage cowardice. We mus...
  2. […] Mean people are like wasps. They take movement as a threat so they attack. Stay still and you are sa...

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